Natalie Wood was one of Hollywood golden stars and a legend both on and off the silver screen. Born to Russian immigrants, Wood found herself in the spotlight as a child, capturing the audience’s hearts in the holiday classic, “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947). Maintaining a successful career as an adult, she went on to turn in Oscar-nominated performances in the films “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) and “Splendor in the Grass” (1961), as well as charming audiences as Maria in the hit musical “West Side Story” (1961). Wood’s storybook marriage to fellow actor Robert Wagner delighted movie fans – first, in the late 1950s, and later, following their divorce, when the couple reunited for a second go at the marriage in the early 1970s. Natalie Wood Age, Height, Death, Bio, Affairs, Wiki & More
With a personal life rivaling the story of any Hollywood movie, Wood was one of the most beloved actresses of her time, even long after her mystical drowning death in 1981, which left behind more questions than answers. Although investigations into Wood’s mysterious death seemed to be re-opened every few years, with Wagner being named a “person of interest” in early 2018, it remained officially unsolved.
Natalie Wood (born July 20, 1938 – death November 29, 1981) was a Russian-American actress who began her career in film as a child and became a Hollywood star as a young adult. Wood received three Oscar nominations before she was 25. She began acting in films at age 4 and was given a co-starring role at age 8 in Miracle on 34th Street (1947).
Natalie Wood Bio/Wiki
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Family, Education & More
Born Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, CA to her Russian parents, father Nikolai Gurdin, an architect and set designer, and mother, ballet dancer Maria Gurdin. Wood’s parents later changed their surname to Gurdin while Wood was still a baby. Spending the early part of her childhood in Santa Rosa, CA, Wood was introduced to film at the age of four when her mother took her to a film audition to work as an extra. She landed a bit part as a little girl who drops her ice cream in the film “Happy Land” (1943), which was shot locally.
Convinced that her daughter was meant for stardom, Wood’s mother pushed for the family to move to Hollywood so Wood could pursue acting. Landing her first credited role in 1946, Wood appeared alongside Orson Welles and Claudette Colbert in “Tomorrow is Forever.” As was the norm back then, the studio gave her a new name: Natalie Wood. Hailed as Hollywood’s newest child star before the film’s release, Wood’s career took off very quickly. The following year, she gave touching performances in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947) and the holiday classic “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) – the latter being her most famous film as a child actress.
Natalie Wood Net Worth
Natalie Wood Death
Natalie Wood drowned at age 43 during the making of Brainstorm while on a weekend boat trip to Catalina Island on board Wagner’s yacht Splendour. Many of the circumstances are unknown; it was never determined how she entered the water. Natalie Wood was with her husband Robert Wagner, Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken, and Splendour’s captain Dennis Davern on the evening of November 28, 1981. Authorities recovered her body at 8 a.m. on November 29 one mile away from the boat, with a small Valiant-brand inflatable dinghy beached nearby. Robert Wagner said that she was not with him when he went to bed. The autopsy report revealed that she had bruises on her body and arms, as well as an abrasion on her left cheek.
In his memoir Pieces of My Heart, Robert Wagner acknowledged that he had an argument with Natalie Wood before she disappeared. The autopsy found that her blood alcohol content was 0.14% (the limit for driving a car legally was 0.10% in California at the time) and that there were traces of a motion-sickness pill and a painkiller in her bloodstream, both of which increase the effects of alcohol. Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi ruled her death to be accidental drowning and hypothermia. According to Noguchi, Wood had been drinking and she may have slipped while trying to re-board the dinghy. Her sister Lana expressed doubts, alleging that Wood could not swim and had been “terrified” of water all her life and that she would never have left the yacht on her own by dinghy. Two witnesses had been on a boat nearby, and they stated that they had heard a woman scream for help during the night.
Natalie Wood was buried in Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles. Representatives of international media, photographers, and members of the public tried to attend her funeral, but all were required to remain outside the cemetery walls. Among the celebrities were Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire, Rock Hudson, David Niven, Gregory Peck, Gene Kelly, Elia Kazan, and Laurence Olivier. Olivier flew in from London in order to attend the service
Natalie Wood first major ingenue role came at the age of 16 with ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ in 1955. She starred along with James Dean and was nominated for an Academy Award for her convincing acting as a mutinous teenager. In the following year, she acted in ‘The Searchers’ along with John Wayne. Although she only played a small role it was an important one. She also graduated from Van Nuys High School in the same year. Her adult acting career, in spite of going through a rough patch because of various flops that she endured, took off with ‘Splendor in the Grass’ in 1961. She was cast in the movie by director Elia Kazan.
That same year, she starred in another distressed love story, ‘West Side Story’, a spin-off of Shakespeare’s classic ‘Romeo and Juliet’. In the movie, Wood’s character falls in love with a boy from the poor area of the city. Wood’s other movies from the ‘60s include: ‘Gypsy (1962)’, ‘Love with the Proper Stranger (1963)’, ‘The Great Race (1965)’, ‘Inside Daisy Clover (1965)’, ‘This Property Is Condemned (1966)’, ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969)’, etc. In 1970, Pregnant with her first child, Wood took semi-retirement as she wanted to pay more attention to her role as a mother.
Later on, she made television appearances with ‘The Affair (1973)’, ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1976)’ and ‘Switch (1978)’.
By the late ‘70s, Wood started working more frequently and did movies like: ‘Meteor (1979)’ starring opposite Sean Connery, ‘The Last Married Couple in America (1980)’ a sex comedy, ‘The Cracker Factory (1980)’ and TV series ‘Here to Eternity (1980)’.
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Some Known Facts About Natalie Wood
- Natalie Wood was born on July 20, 1938, in San Francisco, California to Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.
- She was named after director Sam Wood.
- She was fluent in Russian and English.
- Her favorite singer was Bob Dylan and her favorite actress was Vivien Leigh.
- Natalie Wood was commonly listed as 5′ 3″ wearing heels in movie magazines, though her actual height was 5′ 2″.
- She was named one of the top sex stars of the 1970s in Playboy magazine.
- She was placed at #70 in the list of “100 greatest stars of all time” by Entertainment Weekly.
- The daughter of Russian immigrants who changed the family name to Gurdin after becoming U.S. citizens. The stage name Natalie Wood was given to her by a Hollywood producer who thought it was more marketable. She never legally changed her name from Natasha Gurdin.
- Began career as a movie extra at age 4. At 8, she captured the hearts of audiences in the Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street.
- As a teen actress ready to escape her child-star image, she accepted a role opposite heartthrob James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and earned her first Academy Award nomination.
- Was associated romantically throughout her career with numerous high-profile men, including Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty, and Dennis Hopper.
- A publicity-staged date for her 18th birthday with handsome rising star Robert Wagner began a romance that resulted in marriage a year later.
- Despite her fear of water and inability to swim, director Elia Kazan manipulated her into performing the reservoir scene in Splendor in the Grass (1961) instead of using a stunt double.
- While her songs in West Side Story (1961) were recorded by renowned vocalist Marni Nixon, she did do her own singing the next year in Gypsy (1962).
- In 1962, she filed for divorce from her husband Wagner after reported infidelity. Married producer Richard Gregson in May 1969.
- After learning Gregson was having an affair, Natalie Wood filed for divorce in 1971 and found comfort in the arms of her first husband Wagner. They remarried in 1972.
- Accidentally drowned at age 43 while spending a weekend on her yacht with husband Wagner and friend Christopher Walken.
- Her death came while she’d been filming the sci-fi thriller Brainstorm; a new ending was devised using pre-existing footage.
- Following Natalie Wood death, her sister Lana Wood authored a tell-all memoir and later coproduced the 2004 television movie The Mystery of Natalie Wood, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.
What Happened To Natalie Wood?
In 1981, Natalie’s Death Was Classified As An Accident And “Probable Drowning In Ocean.” Prominent Los Angeles Coroner Thomas Noguchi Cited In His Report “Numerous Bruises To Arms And Legs” That Were “Superficial And Probably Sustained At The Time Of Drowning” And Wrote, “No Other Trauma Noted And Foul Play Is Not.
What Did Natalie Wood Die Of?
Los Angeles County Coroner Thomas Noguchi Ruled Her Death To Be Accidental Drowning And Hypothermia. According To Noguchi, Wood Had Been Drinking And She May Have Slipped While Trying To Re-board The Dinghy.
Who Was On The Boat With Robert Wagner Natalie Wood?
Also Aboard That Night Were Captain Dennis Davern, Wagner, And Wood’s Friend And Fellow Actor, Christopher Walken. The Next Day, The Actress Was Found Floating In The Water Wearing A Red Down Jacket And Flannel Nightgown. After A Two-week Investigation, The Death Was Ruled An Accident.
What Year Did Natalie Wood Die?
29 November 1981, Natalie Wood/Date Of Death